Lawyers for former Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz have withdrawn from his trial for alleged illicit enrichment, denouncing the court's violation of their client's rights, two of them said on Tuesday.
Mr. Aziz, 66, has been on trial since January 25 by a court in Nouakchott for having abused his power in order to amass an immense fortune when he ruled this pivotal country between North Africa and Africa from 2008 to 2019. Sub-Saharan Africa.
He responds with ten other personalities, including two former Prime Ministers, former ministers and businessmen, heads of “illicit enrichment”, “abuse of functions”, “influence peddling” or “money laundering”.
The collective of lawyers of the former head of state decided to withdraw on Monday while the civil parties began their pleadings, because, "when an accused is deprived of all his rights (...) the trial turns into a parody,” declared Me Ciré Clédor Ly.
Mr. Clédor Ly and his colleague Mr. Taleb Khyar Ould Mohamed Moloud affirmed that the court refused to process the requests of Mr. Aziz's defense and to call witnesses on his behalf. Mr. Aziz "suffered unequal treatment" until his detention, said Me Clédor Ly, who counted 356 violations of his client's rights.
The Court appointed two lawyers to defend Mr. Aziz, but the latter "systematically refuses to collaborate with them", reported Me Mohamed Moloud, stressing that the collective which withdrew remained the legitimate defender of Mr. Aziz.
The trial will resume on October 23, time for the court-appointed lawyers to review the file, the court explained.
Mr. Aziz, a general brought to power by a putsch in 2008 then elected president in 2009 and re-elected in 2014, is one of the rare former heads of state to have to account for how he enriched himself in power . His peers tried by national or international justice are mainly for blood crimes.